Conventions—Time for Rejoicing!
1 The conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses are occasions of great rejoicing. For over a hundred years, these gatherings have contributed to the increase that has been taking place in our organization. From small beginnings, we have seen Jehovah’s rich blessings on our worldwide work. At our first convention in modern times, in Chicago, Illinois, in 1893, a total of 70 of the 360 in attendance were baptized in symbol of their dedication to Jehovah. This past year’s series of “Doers of God’s Word” District Conventions had a combined worldwide attendance of 9,454,055, with 129,367 baptized. What a wonderful cause for rejoicing!
2 Ever since Bible times, the gatherings of God’s people have provided a prominent means for imparting instruction from Jehovah. In the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, the people listened to the reading of the Law “from daybreak till midday.” (Neh. 8:2, 3) Because of getting a better understanding of the Law on that occasion, the people experienced “a great rejoicing.” (Neh. 8:8, 12) We too rejoice that conventions provide a fine opportunity for us to receive good instruction and spiritual food “at the proper time” from Jehovah through “the faithful and discreet slave.” (Matt. 24:45) Since Jesus said that man must live on “every utterance coming forth through Jehovah’s mouth,” conventions are vital to our spiritual well-being.—Matt. 4:4.
3 It Is Worth All the Effort to Attend: All of us should make it our personal goal to be present for this year’s entire “Teachers of God’s Word” District Convention. We should plan to arrive early each day and remain until we join in saying “Amen!” to the closing prayer. To accomplish this we may have to adjust our schedule. Getting time off from our employment to attend the convention may present some difficulties. We need to take a firm stand, not leaving anything to chance. If we need accommodations and/or transportation, we should make arrangements early. Whatever effort we have to make will be worth it!
4 Jehovah’s people do not measure the blessings of attending a convention in dollars and cents. Note the examples of some who were determined to attend the 1958 Divine Will International Assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses in New York City. One brother closed down his construction business for two weeks to volunteer his help and attend the assembly. A brother in the Virgin Islands sold five acres of land so that his entire family of six could attend. A young couple sold their motorboat so that they could take all three of their children, ages two months to seven years, to the assembly. Three fleshly brothers from California were told that if they were absent from their jobs, those jobs would not be there when they returned. That, however, did not keep them from going to that unforgettable assembly.
5 Jehovah Rewards Our Earnest Effort: Jehovah sees and blesses the efforts of his people. (Heb. 6:10) As an example, at the 1950 Theocracy’s Increase Assembly, those in attendance heard the landmark talk “New Systems of Things.” Brother Frederick Franz aroused and quickened the interest of all by asking: “Would this international assembly be happy to know that here, tonight, in our midst, there are a number of prospective princes of the new earth?” Over 50 years later, we still rejoice in this clarified understanding of Psalm 45:16.
6 After attending last year’s district convention, an appreciative family head wrote the following: “Brothers, you will never know how much of a lifesaver this convention has been. My family moved to the city for employment reasons, only to find our spirituality floundering. . . . We had let our Christian obligations fall by the wayside. We even stopped attending meetings and sharing in service altogether. . . . This convention has rejuvenated us, and once again we are setting spiritual goals and getting organized to accomplish these.”
7 Jehovah is supplying us with the spiritual food we need. He spreads a rich table at our conventions. Our appreciation for this provision should enable us to say what Cornelius said when he was visited by the apostle Peter: “At this time we are all present before God to hear all the things you have been commanded by Jehovah to say.” (Acts 10:33) Let us make it our goal to be “present before God” at every session of this year’s “Teachers of God’s Word” District Convention and rejoice!